Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is There Really a Heaven?

Something touched a nerve about this subject because the forthcoming book on heaven is on the cover of Newsweek (Oct. 15, 2012), (Read the article here) and is a new book.  It is written by a scientist, self proclaimed, because he is a neurosurgeon.  Scientists and neurosurgeons are not necessarily equal.  In the field of psychology he is far from a scientist.  But  let’s look at what he claims; but first in order to establish his bona fides,  his disclaimer:  he never  believed in near-death experience.  He was a “faithful Christian” but not a practicing one.  I think he means he was a believer but not really a “true believer.”

  He  contracted meningitis, fell into  a  coma for a week, and a good part of this thinking/aware  neo-cortex was shut  off.  “Then on the morning of the seventh day in the hospital, as my doctors weighed whether to discontinue treatment,  my eyes popped open.  While  the neurons of  my cortex were stunned to  complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another dimension of the universe.”  He went to a place he never dreamed existed; sorry, I mean he went to a place that he dreamed existed.  This placed him in a “new  world.”  And I am sure that world is new to him: but not to me.  And not to me as a scientist who studies the deep unconscious.  I will need to explain.

As soon as our doctor had  his top level surgeon  brain  knocked  out he was like all of the rest of us: non-scientific schlubs  with no critical/judging cortex to help  understand our experience.  He was no longer scientist but someone who went through what our patients go through every day. The  difference is that our patients are able to connect their experience to higher level processes, where the doctor could not because there were no higher levels operating at the time.  I will have to explain better.  Our therapy is based on the three levels of consciousness, not as a theoretical abstraction but as a scientific therapy that has been heavily researched.  We take patients back to their childhood to relive and integrate childhood trauma, and even before to birth trauma and earlier events during womb-life, which  is neurologically possible.  These events operate  on different levels of consciousness where the deepest level is processed in brain structures that lie on the bottom part  the brain in the brainstem which handles our instincts, primitive experiences such as terror and fury, and imprints early events far below our ordinary levels  of  conscious/awareness.  And  that means far below the emotional experience of a surgeon whose whose life  is focused  on the here and now, not on his childhood and emotional trauma.

The top  level cortex is the thinking, comprehending analytic brain that understands experience, but we have experience without all that.  Look at the Alzheimer patient  who has  a pretty full life, albeit unconscious or unaware, who operates on below conscious/aware levels.  She can fall in love, care for  animals, take walks with someone she cares about and carry on minimal conversations, bereft of fancy abstractions.  She can have a life.  Well that is what  all of us have but beyond  that we have a deeper, brainstem life with  a  little bit of an emotional/limbic  system component that signifies a  life before words and even before the full  development  of our emotions.  I reiterate, those brain levels  exist in  all of us and have their  own operating system that dictates how we respond.    Unfortunately, few of us ever have a chance to go back  to visit  and relive  those experiences, except for our patients.  And what happens when they do?  The  imprinted experience on the brainstem sends its nerve shoots (brain pathways) to higher levels that in turn respond in their  own way.  The limbic area offers  emotions to the mix, and then at long  last  the cortex  enters the fray and adds is ideas and fantasies.  The final step  in our work is arriving  at  conscious/awareness; lower levels rising and  gathering up parts of each higher  level, finally recruiting  the neo-cortex to make sense of it  all.  It  unifies the entire experience into a specific meaning…  “They didn’t love me.”

  How do we know? Well we  have years of research behind us,  discussed in peer reviewed journals, but  also  in our therapy when patients descend  to deeper levels  they not only begin to feel deep sadness or pure  terror but  as  the  feelings expands the brainwaves also  mount, as does  the blood pressure  and body  temperature.  More important, when the feeling is unified there is a descent of key vital signs below starting baseline.  That signifies the beginning of  integration; and over months those vital  signs remain changed as the body changes.  We change all levels of consciousness not just the top level neo-cortex, as happens in cognitive therapy.

  We have seen patients approach these deep levels, after months of therapy, never right away, and begin their strange ideas……”I am in a washing machine that won’t stop and I don’t know how to  stop it.”  Or, “I  am  suffocating in a cave. There is no air and I cannot get out.”  These, in my experience, are derivatives of the birth experience (foreshortened here),  that first send up vague  but related ideas, the forerunner of the reliving experience.  It is very possible  in those who approach these experiences too soon  or who have take drugs to get there, that they will get stuck in the fantasy,  the dream sequence, and never arrive at  a connection.  Here is  where our surgeon enters.  Surgeons, and we have treated them, are notorious unfeeling  souls who  left their emotions far behind to be able  to  cut into our brains.  We get them in therapy after a stroke or from some exotic disease.  We get them when they have no other option.  They are the  last to believe  in feelings and the  emotional level.  I am not sure that if we are fully feeling we could take  a knife and cut  into someone’s brain.  But you know what they say, “a shrink is a doctor who cannot stand the sight of blood.”

  So what happens?  Experience on  deep brain levels are like the spokes of a wheel that  radiate upwards and forwards to inform high levels of it  all but without words or verbal  information.  We later put  words and fantasy images thanks to our  emotional levels and then we believe what we have “experienced.”  This only means that the person has stopped short of  connection  and has conflated or grown into a “cosmic consciousness” thanks to LSD, rebirthing and other nonsense.  He gets blocked on the emotional level, in this case, because the meningitis brain is not doing so well and cannot help out much.  And so later he really believes he has “been  to heaven,” which our previous LSDers believe after an acid trip.  We know  from research that the acid takers are flooded  with pain  as the  control mechanisms in the brain shut down with  the  drug.  Their pain of a lifetime surges forward into the top level.  Their  only recourse is to  manufacture another planet with the little cortex they have left.  And  they can construct someplace else where all is wonderful… clouds  and softness,  and especially, where  death  is not only not so bad but a nice place to be—everyone’s dream of heaven.  If our doctor  had written that it was a  horrible experience  it would never be on the front page of Newsweek.    It doesn’t help that he is a scientist; in fact it hurts,  because he has less  expertise on feelings than most of  us have.  He is on another planet; that of surgeons.  He states that although his top level was out of commission his lower brain levels were alive and well. And they are but he never knew what lies on those levels.  It took us forty years to get down to those levels safely and  finally to understand the brain well  enough to know about those three  levels and how they make out our conscious/awareness.  We have been there and have  taken careful notes on our patients” experiences.  They go through pretty much the same thing; first emotional/dreamlike fantasies, (as the limbic system contributes) and later the concoction of elaborate  notions of heaven and new planets of existence thanks to the neo-cortex.  If you want to call that heaven that is fine but don’t give it the imprimature of science.  It is  fantasy pure and simple, even when offered by a “scientist.”  I have  found  that  the minute a scientist gets slightly out of his specialty he tends to talk nonsense.  And he stops being a specialist.  He  leaves off  where we begin.  We don’t dissect the brain  but we dissect what  the brain does with feelings.

  Our doctor  could not do that so he hears beautiful chants  and songs  of angels; by the way, if the top level was  completely shut  down where did  he  get the idea of angels?    He  now sees that we are one, unified beings, part of all the world.  And  then he says it gets  worse: he has  a companion through  it all, someone  young and beautiful,  riding  along  on the wings of  a butterfly.  You need a limbic system to have even an imagined companion, so clearly, higher brain levels were at work.  And  then without  any words a wind thrusts  through  him  and he heard,  “You are loved.  Cherished.  You have nothing to fear.    There is nothing  you can do wrong.”  All three  basic primal feelings that one  gets to in  our therapy over  time.  But it is not an idea; it is a feeling where patients beg, “Love  me just a little.  Say  I  am  good and not wrong,” etc.  Basic needs  that we all have  and need to experience.  It  needs connection which  is  liberating, something  our doctor never had; and needs for a real  experience.  Doctor, it is not the wind speaking; it is your father.

  Years ago there was a  similar book, also  a best seller, who had little men who looked like ET who  bundled off the author to a waiting  starship where they performed all kinds of booga booga on him.  It sounds crazy but no more crazy than riding  on pink clouds with  a beautiful “princess.”  It is all fantasy and does not  make heaven  any more real except for the true  believers.  It is all in the mind.  The doctor believes, “It as if I were being born into a larger  world,  and  the universe was like a giant  cosmic womb.”  Exactly.    A symbolic birth primal.  We have patients who have been on drugs or who are  very disturbed  who have  those feelings;  once they connect, it  all disappears.  But imagine me explain to the doctor that birth imprints stay in the brain  and direct part of our lives. And then tell him that we can  relive it all. He will surely think I am  the  crazy one.  He says that what he went through demands explanation.  Here I am.

  One part of the explanation is that as death nears  the whole system goes into alarm state.  There is secretion of endorphins  and serotonin as the system fights the  danger, and then it  is  over; or not.  If it is not over, the person may have felt the near-death  syndrome but he never went to heaven.  He touched on hell and that drove his brain to  fabulate heaven.  There have many studies on near death.  Usually it is when someone has fallen into a coma, comes out and imagines she died.  She didn’t.  But that doesn’t stop the notion that “I left my body and traveled to another planet.”  Let us not forget  that Wilder Penfield in Canada, decades ago put an electric probe on areas of the temporal lobe (of those undergoing surgery for epilepsy) and got delusions and hallucinations.  It so happened that the closer he got to the  actual memory site the more real the memory became.  All this means that we can get all  of these fantasies in a surgical setting in those not near death.  The minute that  we interfere with neurotransmitters we can get this effect, as well.  LSD affects serotonin turnover.  And this can result  in  disinhibition  which  then results  in delusions as repression  and inhibition falters.  In  short, we cannot believe what the cortex tells us  when lower brain levels is telling us something else.  But when the cortex offers goodies such  as gorgeous girls and heaven instead of death it can’t be beat.

If I were to take this doctor into therapy we would get to the real feelings eventually but then he couldn’t sell a million books.


  1. This heaven sounds quite appealing at the moment. I think my first line is banging on the doors of my concious mind like a Bull with a chilli stuck up it's arse at the moment. My head feels leaden which is probably down to deep fight or flight. Something happened during my Tuesday session because while not getting upset or anything my blood pressure dropped from 152 over 89 to 102 over 62. This therapy is quite difficult to understand sometimes but in the end it's about listening to one's body and trusting it I suppose which this Scientist thinks he is doing.

  2. Hi Art. Thanks for sharing this! Love how you just cut through all the b.s. and get right to the truth behind all the booga booga (as you put it). I'm reading 'Primal Healing' now and see the correlation with this post and where I'm at in the book.

    Question: Any idea on when the books you're working on 'Beyond Belief' about cults, healers, guru's etc., will be finished and available? And also the one on Hypnotherapy. Very interested for personal reasons.

    Thank You for everything you share! Most appreciative here. ~ Jared

    1. Jared: I just finished "Searching for our Humanity" and it has been sent out to publishers. "Beyond Belief" will be ready end of November. art

  3. Hi Art ,
    brilliantly written (and You feel to have said it all...?!)
    And for my part do NOT need heaven (by the way
    how long would I endure the alleluja songs
    until doomsday will come ?

    I am satisfied to "be" that... what "I " was before
    "all the mischief began" NOTHING!!
    Yours emanuel

  4. And maybe on the flipside of this, another example of the "psychological" effects of a functional disconnect of the frontal cortex. Borderline personality disorder following concussion or TBI. BPD a "mysterious" disorder, mostly treated an-historically, especially when there is no connection to the often forgotten and untreated cause.

  5. Andrew's commentary: part 2:

    I read through Dr Eben Alexander's link as provided, and notice he said that his experience could not have been processed by his brain which was almost completely offline at the time of his coma. This 'impossibility' is according to current medical knowledge. I think that's the crux of his argument.

    How can medical knowledge know what the brain is and is not capable of exactly, in this state? It can't, and I don't believe it does...

    I think the assumption is that consciousness is achieved from the later developing neocortex. But as we know it isn't, as such. The neocortex provides consciousness in terms of awareness of the outside world, and awareness of logic, whereas the earlier brains provide the sensational/emotional component of consciousness. To me it's quite feasible that Dr Alexander can dream up flying on butterflies with sexy woman on his side, and also dream up the *sensational/emotional* component of comprehension (messages from "god") without any neocortex comprehension at all.

    1. Andrew,

      Yes... we must not forget that a lot is "logical" is out of a neurotic world. I mean it's logical to covet otherwise not eligible circumstances. I mean on... it is logical to experience murderous thoughts... feelings... given the circumstances of how they evolved.


  6. Near death without hallucinations.

    Your reflection over the hallucinating neurosurgeon, I read with a mixture of great satisfaction but even greater concern. Your crystal clear and pertinent comments about how the different levels of the brain actually work during the surgeon’s “brain death”, and your disclosure of his absurd induced hallucinations of American cultural symbols was a great pleasure to read. I feel big concern that the major part of our Western society is so repressed / naive as to swallow such nonsense, which is basically a mockery of both the modern biogenetic evolution and the > 6 billion global citizens who do not fantasize (have near death-experiences) about young, blue-eyed beauties as their religious cheerleaders.

    I first read your Reflections and the NEWS-article of the neurosurgeon, then copied them and read them again before I fell asleep. After a few hours, I woke up with my head full of thoughts about my 40-year maturity and rehabilitation process. Among other things, I felt the satisfaction of having experienced the effects, in several development stages, to have been epileptic. My epilepsy stood for 20 years as the door to death, and it was thus a significant near-death threat until I through my first primal, which developed out of a potentially grand mal seizure, experienced my birth trauma, which was a horrifying struggle for life and death.

    During the 20 years when I was ignorant of my birth trauma, my brain / I avoided religious hallucinations as an alternative to numb the pain. However, I often had flashbacks (spontaneous “primals”) to sensations of traumatic character that I had repressed followed by a big relief. A very important event, from a religious point of view, occurred before I was 7 years old, with other words long before I developed epilepsy. During emotional discomfort (I remember it almost like an epileptic aura) I decided not to believe in, or allow me to be influenced by my mother’s religious drivel full of bible quotes. This very early intuitive experience of my mothers godly fantasies, which were like a drug / protection against some kind of repressed pain was important for my search for an earthy explanation of my epilepsy. (By the way, my mothers religiosity changed and loosened considerably after a few strokes between 75/80 years of age. After that she was despite an impaired physical mobility safer and more secure in her opinions.)

    Since the epileptic and religious experiences of my life had passed revue early this morning, I felt tense and laid back and felt an internal pressure / pain come up. It was a wordless re-experience of my birth trauma (which probably will return in a more readily perceived form until the original amount repressed birth pain has emptied out). It takes a few hours of wordless pain, tightness, tingling, feeling of anesthesia and suffocation while inimitable bodily movements to and from taking place. The emotions experienced at the beginning, and during much of the process take place in a very small body and at its end the little body fills out my adult body, and the process ends, with a feeling of being more developed and free.

    Simple, comfortable and close to life.

    Jan Johnsson


    It would have been interesting to listen to Dostoevsky’s opinion about our neurosurgeon’s religious hallucinations. I suppose he would have filed it under the label “time shall be no more” as the one with the epileptic Muhammad, who during his epileptic moment “had time during the same second to survey all the dwellings of Allah”...

    1. Jan: most interesting as always. art

    2. i've been reading about seizures. they can happen in many different parts of the brain. if the burst of electrical 'noise' is happening in only one side of the brain, the person may or may not lose consciousness. but if it happens in both sides - in other words, if the noise spreads across the corpus callosum (the thick bundle of 'wires' that act as a switchboard between the two hemispheres) the result is always unconsciousness.

      it seems that the corpus callosum is a critical contributor to consciousness in that it must be functioning smoothly (without any 'noise') in order for it to maintain consciousness. If one side of the brain is completely removed, consciousness is maintained simply because there are no messages passing through the corpus callosum from one side to the other. in this sense, it is operating smoothly. but of course it would not be 100% full consciousness. full consciousness cannot be achieved until ALL brain-parts are contributing towards the overall sensation.

      there are many parts of the brain that can be removed as a complete piece so as to avoid any resulting noise. of course it would be better to smooth out a small area of noise rather than remove a huge lobe. how do we do that?

      a false belief is similar to a mild seizure; it is a relatively small group of deviated connections. the electrical current must violate all of the surrounding connections which are encouraging the belief to form part of a seamless network. i think it is possible that much of the false belief is truthful - meaning much of it's connections are well integrated and seamless in the right hemisphere and the corpus callosum, but perhaps there is an abrupt deviation in the left hemisphere which needs to be constantly 'maintained' to stop it from being electrochemically integrated with it's surrounding connections. Art describes it as a truthful force coming from the right and lower centers (the parts that develop earlier than the intellect). indeed, from an anatomical point of view, it is likely to be a strong, fast current (not deviated) which is trying to close the circuit at the terminal end.

      the brain really is a computer full of closed circuits. the axons are 'wires' that bridge from neuron to neuron, just like a circuit board. those wires are covered with 'plastic insulation' (the fatty myelin sheath) to prevent interference from nearby wires. and the corpus callosum is packed full of wires that span the distance between the two 'computers'.

      when a wire on a circuit board is routed incorrectly, it can heat up or fry other parts of the circuit board. can prolonged confusion cause damage to neurons? yes. perhaps regulated unconsciousness (sleep) can give deviated connections a chance to 'cool off'. perhaps this is why epileptics go to sleep immediately after they have had a big seizure.

    3. Hi Richard,

      More on close to life.

      I have felt and written about my kind of pain / seizures. I have made friends with them over the last 40 years. I am not qualified to discuss epilepsy in technical terms with you; I can only tell you how / why they appeared and how they symbolically changed my life, first when my pain turned into seizures and then when my seizures turned into primals and I eventually, miraculously was cured.

      It was a trauma that started when my mother deliberately caused that I was not allowed to have an easy birth. In accordance with her religious belief, she had decided literally to make sure that I was born with pain. This was a process that took 48 hours beyond what was necessary. My mother was physically and mentally strong and endured, which meant that my / our trauma was extremely exhausting. Without having been able to gain insight into the physician's assessment (medical records at the hospital were missing when I asked for them!), I was turned around late in the process and pulled out ass first, which in turn meant that I was exposed for severe strangulation experiences with the umbilical cord around the neck.

      During primals I have, countless times, experienced the wordless pain I experienced, the assault of my head, arms, legs and body. The disastrous feeling and pain were the first times unbearable. The numbing sensation of pain that went on for a few hours meant that large amounts (several dl!) of mucus poured up of my lungs and stomach and through my mouth, nose and eyes.

      When the process was most striking, I became dry in the mouth, my tongue turned inwards and fell down in my throat (impossible to imitate) and my body was bent backward in a bow while performing convulsive twitching. My senses were strained to their utmost, and instead of a grand mal seizure, my organism performed an indescribably dramatic attempt to get oxygen that ended in an intense baby cry (deeply from my guts) and I was finally completely relaxed and free and the primal ended.

      My breathing has during my primals normally three modes; hyperventilation (automatic breathing controlled by 1st line impulses) at maximum capacity, hyperventilation in an energy-saving mode and a third mode, which meant that I was not breathing at all, which led to a feeling that I give up and am painfully strangled. On and off during the birth process, I feel/felt anaesthetized, which is probably a result of the doctor / midwife inserting various types of anesthetics, stimulants to get my mother relaxed and speed up the process.

      The described birth primal, I have experienced several times since 1980. For every primal the magnitude of the trauma gradually has subsided due to the repressed pain has decreased, I now understand what it is about and the whole process has become part of a positive curative symphony.

      to be continued...

    4. continued..

      I lived with the immense pressure of my birth trauma for 40 years without understanding that my epilepsy was my symbolic birth trauma. I got Carbamazepine / Tegretol against my epilepsy, which did not prevent that I developed a hyperactive lifestyle. Eventually, I could understand that I developed a life pattern which meant I imitated the birth process in my desperate eagerness symbolically "to be born". Every time I got stuck, in schools, marriages and professions, I changed radically due to feelings of not being able to breathe or endure (suicidal feelings / seizures of all kinds could then easily develop). I changed so I could start my symbolic struggle; a new place, a new job, a new wife, a new country, a new culture and a new language ....

      My seizures could be grand mal, petit mal, hallucinations, etc., and I have enough of experience to fill the majority of the neurologic, standardized, categorization definitions, which I only see as a curiosity because all is about pain from my birth trauma, and no one, NO ONE! neurologist has during 50 years asked me WHY I have epilepsy, while they have been pouring technical definitions over me to fill my ignorance which I now understand that I had in common with the neurologists.

      But now I know! Thanks to my curly shrink Arthur Janov!

      Jan Johnsson

      PS. I was not one of those epileptics who needed sleep after a seizure.

    5. Really amazing, Jan. It's a horror story but it is encouraging to know that pain as bad as yours can be relived. Wow you are incredibly brave. Thanks for writing. How on earth could any scientist ignore a story like that?!!

    6. "full consciousness cannot be achieved until ALL brain-parts are contributing towards the overall sensation"

      i'm not sure about that. maybe a damaged brain can provide full consciousness.

      "fully conscious" means wide awake and experiencing all the information coming from your senses, your feelings, other people's feelings, your wider surroundings....and all without the slightest hint of trance/hypnosis.

  7. I saw a show on the History channel the other day that dealt with reincarnation. There was a young boy, who's parents claimed that he spoke about being a fallen pilot in WWII in his past life and that the pilot's spirit was still inhabited the boy's body as a young child. I thought it was pretty interesting and I would like to read Janov's theory on such cases. Particularly ones dealing with young children who claim to have seen heaven or are seemingly in touch with someone from a past life.

    Are they being coached and encouraged by their parents? It seems like they would be too young to make the stuff up on their own.

    1. Rjkingman: There is no magic in life. If parents have a stake in having a child who lived in WWII so be it but don't get caught up in that nonsense. art

  8. It is not only my iMac memory which needs a clean up...

    The book writing neurosurgeon and Art’s well formulated and defined description, of what is happening at various levels in the brain when we at some early stage have been subjected to unbearable pain gave me a lot of reasons to think through and reorganize my memories of a long life in the shadow of pain, anxiety, religion, neurology, psychology and neuroses.

    I have earlier in life, during an uncertain imminent threat of neurologic interventions due to my epileptic stigma, tried to convince me / “believe” that surgeons belonged to the group of professionals where accuracy and “precision in hand and mind” dominates. This belief has suffered a blow. Belief often fills an unbearable emptiness, which remains when knowledge is lacking.

    In the case of the fairy tale writing surgeon, he choose, due to lack of knowledge, to interpret his absurd experiences from his period of illness in religious terms and uses with disguised restriction his professional background / prestige to sell his book to a religiously drug dependent society with the help of a well known (not scientific!) magazine.

    The advantage that my faith in the surgeons got a scratch is that it happens with the help of an insider who reveals what is below the surface even in surgeons...

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Hi Jan,
      -"Belief often fills an unbearable emptiness, which remains when knowledge is lacking"-.

      And when true knowledge begins to gain our attention, false belief starts to crumble. The problem seems to be that our repressions prevent our attention from focussing on the true knowledge. . .

      Sometimes when I look in the mirror I don't see my reflection, I begin to feel my emptiness and I can't bear it.

      Paul G.

  9. I'm guessing that you would make a similar statement for ghost and all of supposedly true stories of encounters with supernatural beings. It's easy to get compelled by such stuff, especially on shows such as Celebrity Ghost Stories and others. All that could really be publicity stuff, but there's still a relatively large number of people who have obstinate beliefs in that stuff.

  10. Dear Art
    Are you okay over there in New Jersey? I have been terribly worried about you in that terrible hurricane which has been on the news over here in England. All I cared about is your well being. Hope your home is ok, too.

    1. Anonymous: Hey thanks for the concern, but I am in the sun on the west coast. art

  11. Your lyrics Art... is the intellectual medicine that allows a emotional scientific process. Of course... can be thought… but that is not so obvious… it is not... because then we would be much further of in the primal therapeutic process!

    The "super-intellectual" man is the one who knows about the evolutionary process without knowing why! I mean those who understand the whole process… the process of how and why we have developed a defense for survival during evolution and what consequences it has. Wait a minute... is that true? When we get the science that contains the process that prevents emotional development… when we learn science for what it is… we have also opened the intellectual channel to communicate with the limbic system... our defenses will be weakened with consequences that make the primal therapeutic process significantly easier!


  12. Hi,

    Richard Dawkins has just done a documentary series on Channel 4 (UK) called Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life. You can get this on " 4oD " on the internet.

    In it he presents his argument that "we can get out of bed in the morning" without the inspiration of God. In particular he cites experiments with rhesus monkeys who were given a reward game with a 75% bias for the button that gave a snack 75 times out of 100. The other button gave snacks at 50%. The monkeys pretty quickly noticed. Without any subterfuge (or 'invention') they simply switched to pressing the button that got 75% success and ignored the 50% one.

    When humans were given the same game to play they all tried to manipulate the results by trying different sequences of BOTH buttons, presumably in the belief that by 'calculation' they could get 75% or more. . . In reality they all scored LESS than 75% on snacks. . . (of course).

    The experiment shows fairly conclusively that we humans have a tendency to try to use our neo-cortex as a 'lever' to gain more but actually all that happens is we "see patterns that aren't really there" and by pursuing those illusory notions we end up with less.

    Being one human with a fascination for 'patterns' and numbers and sequences and processes and protocols and rules etc I am both appalled and also relieved to know this. My neurosis has persistently steered me in an 'experimental' direction and I have ended up with less. The only good thing is having from experience come to see the truth in Dawkins evolutionary view. Somewhere in the documentary Dawkins reminds us that these patterns we see may be there but we can only be sure of them through thorough scientific investigation. That must mean more than mere statistics I imagine. I mean by analysing statistics one can still see things that aren't really there and that is always the challenge for good science isn't it? To be able to eliminate the way we can impose a theory onto the facts and conclude something short of the truth.

    I just want to be one of those monkeys that presses the 75% button.

    Paul G.

  13. Paul

    My Father used to invest in shares.Not huge amounts but he always thought he would hit the big time. He used all kinds of graphs to help him decide as to when to buy or sell. My Mother put about the same amount into the Post Office and after three years she had gained a good lump sum and he had hardly any gain. I always stuck with the idea that my gut knew what it was doing. He was totally out of touch with his gut. Classic intellectual defence. The trouble with relying on one's gut is that one is only half in touch with who one really is. It's like looking through a frosted window. You know stuff is there but can't alway see all the details. Guess work and trust (in one's gut) comes into play. Heaven is total trust, mindless trust.

  14. Who gives a shit what people believe? If it quells their pain without endangering others (as in some religious beliefs) why be mean and snort at those who are after all, only struggling humans trying to cope with their daily overload? A little compassion sometimes...

    yeah yeah it's all autobiography...

    sometimes it's ok to understand what it means to be "thick as a brick" (Ah Jethro, where are you now?), or a raindog:

    "Master thyself, then others shall thee beare"

    Pull down thy vanity
    Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
    A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
    Half black half white
    Nor knowst'ou wing from tail
    Pull down thy vanity

    How mean thy hates
    Fostered in falsity,
    Pull down thy vanity,
    Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
    Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.

    - Ezra Pound

    1. Dear Raindog,

      I agree with you. Who cares what people believe!, and if it quells their pain, fine! But when they start marketing their belief as a "latter day" truth, using their professional, scientific and prestigious Harvard background to catapult their nonsense, then they have spent my compassion...

      Jan Johnsson

    2. Hi Raindog,

      Some famous English writer once said 'all is vanity', time may assuage the thralldom of love (sex) but vanity finally causes man to face his dismal lot, vanity even leers over the shoulders of the saints. . . (over theirs even more than any one elses' - my words).

      Paul G.


Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.